The Texas driver whose truck stirred a First Amendment debate has indeed been arrested, but not for the profane anti-Trump message on her truck.
Sheriff Troy Nehls of Fort Bend County, Texas recently posted on his personal Facebook page that he had received multiple calls about a truck with large stickers reading, “(Expletive) Trump and (expletive) you for voting for him” on the back.
Nehls, who is considering a run for Congress as a Republican according to local media, posted that he was seeking the truck’s owner in the hopes of getting them to censor the message.
The post went viral on the internet, with much debate centered on whether the First Amendment covers political protest that includes profanity.
The ACLU posted that it would help defend the truck’s owner if cited for disorderly conduct, stating that the law protects political speech even if it includes profanity. Multiple news reports cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s Cohen v. California decision that found a law on disturbing the peace violated the Constitution when applied toward a man who wore a jacket reading, “(expletive) the draft.”
Nehls has since taken down the post, which he told reporters had brought him threats and verbal attacks.
Now local media reports that the driver is Karen Fonseca, who was arrested Thursday afternoon — but not for the bumper sticker. Fonseca had an outstanding warrant on a fraud charge, and is being held on $1,500 bail.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Fonseca is a former employee of the sheriff’s department, who used to work under Nehls at the county jail. The truck belongs to her husband, she said, and they have been pulled over many times by police who could not find a reason to write a ticket.
The sheriff’s department posted that no further comments would be made. “The objective of the post was to find the owner/driver of the truck and have a conversation with them in order to prevent a potential altercation between the truck driver and those offended by the message,” it read.
However, Nehls’ original post implied that the district attorney’s office would have prosecuted Fonseca for disorderly conduct. “Our prosecutor has informed us she would accept disorderly conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it,” he wrote.
However, Republican district attorney John Healey told the Houston Chronicle he was never contacted about the issue and did not believe it was a prosecutable case.